What are the benefits of l-lysine?

Updated April 17, 2017

L-Lysine, or lysine, is an important essential amino acid needed by the human body for tissue repair and growth. The body does not produce l-lysine; people can only obtain it from dietary or supplemental sources. It plays a central role in the production of antibodies, hormones and collagen. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, researchers think that l-lysine can be beneficial for osteoporosis. People often use l-lysine supplements for other health problems as well.


L-lysine is one of eight essential amino acids necessary for the growth of protein molecules in the human body. The body cannot synthesise these amino acids; therefore, our bodies must obtain them on a daily basis from foods or supplements. L-lysine has many functions in the human body. It helps in the absorption of calcium and the formation of collagen, ensures proper development of bones in children, balances nitrogen levels and keeps blood vessels healthy.


The benefits of l-lysine are varied. It may be useful for treating cold sores and genital herpes caused by the herpes simplex virus. Shingles, caused by the herpes zoster virus, can also be treated with l-lysine. By using l-lysine supplements, people can reduce the number of recurring outbreaks associated with these viruses. It may also be useful to treat conditions that include angina, ageing skin and injuries.


The food sources highest in l-lysine include red meat, nuts, sardines, eggs, cheese, beans and milk. Most people get an adequate intake of this amino acid by eating high protein foods. However, certain individuals like vegetarians, bodybuilders or athletes may be at risk for l-lysine deficiency and may require dietary supplements. Other sources of l-lysine include supplements sold in health food stores. These are available in a variety of forms such as capsules, tablets and liquid.


When there is an inadequate intake of protein through the diet, people can experience certain signs of l-lysine deficiency. Some of these symptoms are anaemia, nausea, fatigue, stunted growth and appetite loss. In these cases, l-lysine supplementation may be necessary. Deficiencies can also cause kidney stones. People taking high doses of l-arginine, another important amino acid, may also have lower levels of l-lysine.

Contraindications and Precautions

L-lysine is not FDA approved for treatment of any medical conditions. Before taking l-lysine supplements, people should consult a doctor for its proper use. Dosage amounts may depend upon the condition being treated. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should speak to a health practitioner before using this supplement. Likewise, people who take antibiotics like neomycin or streptomycin should not take this supplement without a doctor's recommendation. People who suffer from kidney or liver problems should not take l-lysine.

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